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Warning: This article includes graphic description of self-harm.
The locker door slammed in my face, “Hey faggot, don’t you have a dick to suck? Was that you on your knees in the alley? Everyone knows you like it up the ass.” Then without hesitation he knocked my books out of my hands and shoved me into the lockers as he walked away. That word hung in the air in front of me, it sounded strange to my ears.
Standing there I wondered what he meant by calling me a faggot? Was it something I said, or was it in the way I shyly blushed anytime an attractive guy said hello to me. I thought I had hidden that part of me away so deep no one would know. If only he knew how much I desired the intimate contact of another man. In fact, I was infatuated with him, down to his jock appeal and his designer clothes. What was wrong with me?
That night I went home, locked myself in my bedroom and pulled out the razor blade hidden under my mattress. Damn, I thought. The blade felt cool, I slid it across my skin, imagining the tiny fibres of my skin giving away to its harsh touch. It’d be so easy, just one slow calculated motion. Someone knocked on my door. I quickly tucked the blade back in its hiding place.
“Hey you,” eraser pieces littered my desk, some sticking in my hair, others to the fibres of my sweater. “Faggot…Hey faggot…You’re disgusting”, I sat there in embarrassment. Half the class had heard him, yet no one bothered saying anything. I sank lower in my seat wishing to be anywhere else. Did they all know what I did last night in the darkness of my room, in the privacy of my own mind? How I wished to be those men on my computer screen, skin touching skin, lips touching lips, bodies entwined. But what I wanted more was to know if there were other men out there. Men like me. I felt adrift in a sea of faces, voices, and things I couldn’t comprehend. I told myself I was straight, walked and looked the part, or so I thought. Yet, here was this kid calling me a faggot, and relentlessly torturing me. The bell rang and I dashed out the door to my next class feeling even more alone than ever. Why God, why?
I turned the shower on. The steam clung to the mirror in front of me. My eyes stared me in the face. I looked so strange, this nagging inside my chest wouldn’t leave me be. Tears streamed down my face, and I begged for understanding. My eyes looked haggard; I hadn’t slept in a week. My personal demon haunted me in my dreams. I dreamed of men who nurtured my needs. I’d wake up sweating, breathless, and to the strangeness of arousal in my boxer briefs, briefs which I’d throw away in fear of what it all meant. The razor blade sat on the sink in front of me. My fingers reached for the blade, picking it up. Violent red pooled in droplets, criss-crossing hatch marks on the top of my arm. The pain felt invigorating, intoxicating, and helped me forget. I stepped in the shower and watched as the water turned a pale shade of red, washing away the proof of my actions. My thoughts coalesced down avenues I feared to take. Collapsing to my knees, I sobbed as the water rushed over me. I desired the darkness that would be my peace if I could only manage it.
The bullying and my cutting continued, but one day I made a change. With that said, September is suicide awareness month. I’ve never really shared my story with anyone, except a few people who had similar experiences—my family doesn’t even know. Coming out wasn’t easy, and neither was dealing with my suicidal tendencies. Luckily, I was able to talk to a therapist who helped me through my feelings, although I didn’t come out until a few years later. I’ll be honest; I am lucky and thankful to be alive. There were many times I wanted to end it all. But I learned the most valuable lesson any young gay man, or gay woman for that matter, must learn—acceptance. I accepted my sexuality in all its beauty, and learned that I was not alone.
For all my young brothers and sisters out there who are struggling with their sexuality, I want you to know that I am right here and have been where you are. I want you to know that no cut is worth the loss of your precious life. There will be dark days, and there will be better days. There will be days you want to give up, moments that may seem that your world is caving in. But don’t you ever give up, and give into the temptation of harming or killing yourself. The journey is not an easy one, but each step you take is one that will leave you learning more about yourself. I still face challenges when it comes to my sexuality: within me, from society, and people who only know and judge me by my sexual orientation. I haven’t fully accepted myself, but I’m learning each day I’m alive.
Life is worth living. Cherish every part of your body, your life, your soul. You are beautiful simply by the fact that you are you. I want to share a quote with you from one of my favorite authors, Toni Morrison from her novel Beloved. It’s about the Black body, but I think it is applicable to any human period:
“In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver–love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.” ~Mamma Suggs, Beloved.
Her message is clear, and one I try to live by everyday.
For all those out there who think it’s ok to torture others, I want you to know the implications of your actions and words. The moment you pass judgment on someone else is the moment you cast judgment on yourself. Know that words can, and have, cost people their lives. Someone’s actions and words almost cost me mine. So think before you speak because you never know if those will be the last words a person will hear before they take their life.
To the ones who have passed, you are constantly in my thoughts. There is not a day that I don’t think about all of you who have ended your lives because of your sexuality. Your time was cut short, but know that you will never be forgotten. This one is for you in hopes that I can reach out to those who might be thinking about leaving this world permanently.
Rest easy my friends.